Top spins and spots revealed by Aircheck

The top 10 advertisers on Sydney commercial radio this week were:

1 – Myer

2 – Woolworths

3 – NRMA insurance

4 – Mathemagic computer tutor

5 – Sydney Morning Herald

6 – Rebel Sports

7 – Trading post

8 – Commercial radio branding campaign

9 – Australian airlines

10 – Paul’s Warehouse.

The Top 10 list comes from RCS’ music and advertising monitoring product, Aircheck, which has been operating in the Australian market for just over a month and already most Sydney stations and record companies are using it to track spots or spins.

Aircheck is different from the products offered by the other monitoring companies in the market because, as well as monitoring advertisements played on radio, it also monitors songs.

The top five songs played on Sydney commercial radio this week were:

She will be Loved – Maroon 5

Out of the Blue – Delta Goodrem

My My My – Armand Van Helden

These Words – Natascha Bedingfield

Lose my Breath – Destiny’s Child

While Aircheck is only available in Sydney at the moment, RCS plans to extended monitoring to Melbourne shortly and to other capital cities by mid 2005.

RCS Managing Director Keith Williams says Aircheck gives users a unique way of tracking radio station content through an internet based log window.

“We collect the data and make it available to our clients so they can analyse it in whatever form they want, and use the information they gather from it for the benefit of their business.

“Record companies want to see where and when their songs have been played, and agencies are using it to track their ads.

“Program directors are using it to find out what their competitors are playing, and radio sales managers find it valuable to track new campaigns and clients going to air on other stations.”

The analysis shows that Myer placed 237 advertisements, just ahead of Woolworths, which ran 236 ads last week. Maroon 5 was played 84 times across the week on Sydney commercial radio, just ahead of Delta, who got 83 spins.

Aircheck currently only monitors commercial radio stations because that is all clients are interested in, but Williams says the system is able to track any station if the client is willing to pay for the information.

Aircheck uses audio pattern matching software similar to the technology used for electronic audience measurement to track content as it goes to air. A bank of receivers at RCS’ Crows Nest headquarters pulls in the signals of each station, which are then recorded on computer for data analysis and available for listening by clients who want to hear the item in the report.

Songs and ads which have already been identified are automatically logged in the system and immediately reported, while new songs and advertisements are directed to RCS staff who listen to the audio and name the new file. Once a piece of audio is named the system recognises it automatically from then on.

Williams says it doesn’t matter whether an announcer talks over the beginning of a song, or whether the audio has been sped up, the Aircheck system will successfully recognise the content and track it by station, date and time played.

Some of the report types available include Market Share or Brand Analysis across all stations or on a smaller number of specifically selected stations. Comparison reports between stations are also available – pictured below is a report comparing mornings on 2Day with mornings on Nova, green is ads and blue is songs.

Does Nova really play fewer ads then 2Day?

This week, during a demonstration of Aircheck, radioinfo asked for a comparison report of ads played in the past week on the two stations.

The result: 2Day played 294 advertisements, a total of 8398 seconds of air time, while Nova played 166 advertisements totalling 4333 seconds of air time.

“The report can show all commercials on air in Sydney over a given time period. You can see placement by station, by commercial, or across a range of parameters. You can look at spins plays of songs and exclusive plays by station. It’s all about having the information you want now,” says Williams.

Users of the service can tailor reports to suit their needs via an internet interface. Same day information is available, usually within one hour of air time.

Which stations got the most advertising market share? The report below shows ARN stations Mix (18.6%) and WSFM (17.5%) had the largest share of ad placements in the week chosen for this report.

General Manager of Promotions at Festival Mushroom Records, Frank Varasso, is an Aircheck client. He thinks the monitoring service is “fantastic.”

“From a music industry point of view it makes everything in the radio industry more transparent. From my poiont of view I can see the number of spins per station our artists are getting and work out whether the songs are on an A, B or C rotation. I can see who’s getting played in prime time and who’s getting played at nights or at 2am. It seems to be accurate and correct so far and is helping us track our own artists as well as our competitors.”

In the past, record companies asked Music Directors for an indication of spins and used their own staff to monitor radio stations, but now companies can track the data more quickly and accurately from anywhere according to Varasso.

“Eventually we would like to weight the data based on the Nielsen Ratings so that we will be able to say how many people an item reached across the country. Users will eventually be able to categorise content my genre or agency/direct… We’re here to produce the kind of reports our clients want,” Williams told radioinfo.

The Australian market has gone from none of these tracking systems to three within a few months. Eventhough each company (all covered in earlier stories on radioinfo) has a different client focus, the technology and reporting at the back end is similar. Why is there suddenly so many companies offering this type of monitoring service?

“I think it is happening now because infrastructure and data costs have gone down dramatically in the last few years and each of us can now offer an affordable price to the market. We are different from our competition because we can offer song tracking and as well as spots,” says Williams.